Uceny Determined To Rise After Olympic Fall

Morgan Uceny grew up in Plymouth, Indiana. As a kid, track wasn't even her first love. It was basketball. Since there was no basketball season for sixth graders a cousin on the cross country team convinced her to give it a shot. She says sports, school, and just relaxing was an average day growing up.

"I was a student-athlete. When I wasn't at school I spent most of my time training for basketball or track. At home I would do homework, chores, and then watch some television with my family while eating my favorite Schwann's ice cream."

Uceny continued to balance both running and basketball throughout high school career. She ran cross country her freshman and sophomore years, but decided to hang it up after that. As a junior she won a state championship in the 800 meters. That success landed her a scholarship at Cornell University where she would run until 2007. Uceny didn't have incredible stats at Cornell and the rise from college runner to Olympic athlete didn't happen overnight.

"It's been a very gradual transition. Every year I have become a little bit better and thus gained a little more recognition. I've also been fortunate enough to train with some really tremendous athletes like Deena Kastor, Jen Rhines, and Anna Pierce, who have all been at the top of our sport. I was able to learn a lot from these womens and they were all a motivation for me to work towards being the best."

Coach Terrance Mahon is another reason for her success. In addition to the athletes above Mahon also coached Ryan Hall for five years. In 2011, Uceny was ranked number one in the world at 1500 meters. It was a great accolade that would  give her confidence going into the 2012 Olympics in London.

Uceny was one of two Americans to make the 1500m finals along with Shannon Rowbury. She was running well in the middle of the pack with one lap to go when disaster struck. The Indiana native got tripped up and came crashing down on the track, and her dreams of an Olympic medal shattered as well. She describes the sequence of events in one word, devastation.

"It's been a few weeks and I still feel disheartened when I think about what I lost. I've had to cut my season short due to injuries. It has been difficult coming to terms with that because I really wanted to get back out there, race, and make the most out of the remainder of my season."

It wasn't the first time Uceny had fallen. She also fell in Daegu, got up and finished that race. Many people wondered why Uceny didn't get up this time, go out on the biggest stage in track and field and cross the line? She says she had no control over that.

"When I fell this time I fell hard and was immediately flooded with emotion. I couldn't control what I was feeling and could do nothing except kneel on the track and cry. I knew that in such a slow tactical race that a fall at this point in the race would be impossible to recover from."

This isn't meant to be a feel bad story and Uceny doesn't want you to feel that way either. She also takes several positives leaving London. She says the fact of just racing in Olympic Stadium is something she will never forget.

"Never have I heard a crowd cheer so loudly. It's like you could feel the energy reverberating around the entire stadium. It was great being able to harness that energy while competing. Also, having all my family in London was paramount to my overall experience. We were all sharing our first Olympics together and it was exciting to be able to discuss all the experiences we had."

Even though her season has ended Uceny says she still has many more goals to accomplish and is ready to work hard to get back on track for next season and accomplish those goals. Is a second trip to the Olympics in the works?

"2016 is a long way away.  There will be World Championship teams to work towards and Diamond League races to try and win. I'm just focusing on one season at a time and making each season the best possible."

 

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